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Showing posts from March, 2009

Windows Value Proposition

This new ad from Microsoft cracks me up, not because there's anything inherently funny about it, rather the controversy its stirred up. The fact is that Apple gouge their customers when it comes to hardware pricing - that's why Apple's gross margins are up near 35%, compared to the 8-15% that is common in the PC business. The net result is that the cheapest Apple 17" MacBook Pro is over $2000 more expensive than the HP Pavillion bought in the advert, or almost four times the price. On a hardware only basis that's just impossible to justify. In the current financial climate its entirely sensible advertising thrust for Microsoft to take.

What's really got the fanbois gagging is a single line uttered by Lauren early in the piece: "I guess I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person" when she quite clearly is cool enough. Its absolute gold, piercing the overblown 'Apple is cool' image projected by recent Apple advertising. Its not cool to pay …

Why Is This News?

So Skype has released a client for the iPhone, as has been roundly predicted for a while now. Its a hugely flawed concept, a VoIP application that can only maintain presence on the network when the application is running and the phone is on.

I did like the comment about Skype adding video calling functionality to the application though - good luck, with the iPhone's only camera facing the wrong way!

More importantly users on Windows Mobile, Symbian and Maemo platforms have been asking for this functionality for ages, why hasn't Skype delivered to this much larger audience already?

Nokia 5800 Gets Panned By Engadget

Engadget has taken a pretty thorough look at the Nokia 5800 - the first S60 Fifth Edition device with touchscreen support and I think it would be fair to say they found it something of a dog's dinner.

Are Nokia losing the plot? Sales are off, market share is off, the standard mobile phone market, where there biggest strength remains, is shrinking rapidly, whilst competition in the Smartphone market is exposing the weaknesses of the Symbian platform and sales are again dropping.

The 5800 seems to have some really bizarre design decisions - the UI is confused and confusing and things like the stylus seem to be something of an afterthought. Until the Omnia HD arrives we won't really know whether its an inherent flaw in S60.5 or a Nokia problem, but given this rather tepid review I think I'll hold fire on sampling S60 on this particular handset!

MySpace For Windows Mobile Annoucement Cloaks Silverlight Release

MySpace's announcement of a client for Windows Mobile, coming this summer, has made big news in the tech world today. But more interesting is the fact that it will be released as a Silverlight application for Windows Mobile 6.1. As every indication prior to today had suggested that Silverlight for Windows Mobile would only appear in WM7, or at best WM6.5 - does this mean that the announcement is incorrect or that Silverlight will arrive ahead of schedule for WM6.1 users?

Looking forward to come clarification from MySpace and/or Microsoft...

Did You Know?

This video is probably going to be everywhere soon, but its inspirational and thought-provoking and it has a great sound track too. Well worth five minutes of your time.


Acer Aspire One Shows Impeccable Taste

Engadget has this story of a rather worrying flaw in Acer's Aspire One. Play U2 at high volume and the Aspire will crash and burn. Its not just U2, but if the dreary foursome's Batman theme is played at full volume then the problem is apparently repeatable. Its vibration rather than magnetism that is causing the problem, which probably amounts to disk heads crashing into the glass platter, which could cause data loss.

So, if you're an Aspire owner then its pobably not a good idea to a) crank the volume up or b) listen to U2. In fact the latter is probably good advice for any laptop owner...

Last.FM Kills Windows Mobile & Blackberry Scrobblers

Last.FM have announced that over the course of the next week support for unofficial scrobblers on the Windows Mobile and Blackberry platforms will be ceased and they will be no longer able to connect to the service.

This follows on from the news that subscribers in all countries other than the UK, US and Germany will be hit with subscription charges to continue accessing the service.

It seems to me a shortsighted move - after all mobile users are much more likely to be the ones who use the full service and Last.FM only really has value in its vast user group whose data allows users to recommend and be recommended songs and artists. Once it starts losing users and therefore accuracy there will be no additional value over and above the Genius feature offered in iTunes.

I will be terminating my use of the service as soon as these changes are enforced, although I'll be doing it with regret. Unless there is an official client announced for these platforms I doubt that I'll be return…

Data Roaming Charges Capped By This Summer

European data roaming charges will be slashed as part of a new EU wide agreement which will also see call and message costs slashed.

There's a new maximum data charge of €1 per MB from July (in time for most people's summer holidays) which falls to 50 cents over the next couple of years. When you consider that most data roaming charges are currently in the region of £7.50 per megabyte (about €8) you'll see what a good job the EU has done of leaning on the operators.

However if you are someone who travels regularly it might be worth investigating Three's Like Home deal, which means that if you're in one of three's partner countries you get the same deal as when you're at home, including your unlimited data tariff.

NetFront 3.5 Keeps On Impressing

I mentioned previously how impressed I've been with Access' latest release of NetFront for Windows Mobile even though its only a 'concept edition'. As such I don't think it would be fair to give it a full review but I've got to say that the more I use it the better it gets.

In terms of page rendering its accuracy surpasses that of any Windows Mobile browser I've tried - there are a few sites that absolutely refuse to display but on the whole if you can view a site on your desktop it will work on NetFront too. I'd quite happily say that as a browser its a match for Mobile Safari - the benchmark for mobile browsing. However it does manage to pack in a few nice little touches which make browsing just a little bit slicker than Apple's finest.

Visual bookmarks, where a mini-rendered thumbnail of the link is shown is nice to use, especially the carousel animation that brings the selected bookmark into focus. I'm also loving the text browsing mode, which…

Last.fm Edges Over The Abyss

The original streaming music service last.fm has announced that all users outside the UK, US and Germany will be hit with a €3 per month service charge to continue accessing the music streams and metric charts.

Although that doesn't sound like a great deal of money for what is a pretty good service, I wonder just how many users will decide to use it given the current economic situation.

Which is a shame given the advantages it has over nearest competitor Spotify.

Still the urgent need to raise some money to pay off the baying music industry has forced their hand, although for the moment revenue raised from website adverts is enough to power the systems and pay off the local music industry here, in the USA and Germany.

WM7 Screenshots - Why Bother?

Given that recent demos of WM6.5 show that the user interface for that release hasn't been decided yet, why would screenshots of WM7 be of interest to anyone? Lets face it, WM7 is at least a year away and its highly unlikely that Microsoft are anywhere near finalising anything about the look and feel of the thing... At best I'm guessing that the differences in UI elements in some of the screenshots indicate that Microsoft are still playing with multiple options; at worst they're probably just mockups which may or may not be co-opted into the final interface.

In about six months time I'll be much more interested in what Microsoft are working with, for now its just a distraction with WM6.5 just around the corner.

I'm far more interested in the news that WMP Mobile will be replaced by Zune for Windows Phones in WM7... that's a much better sign that Microsoft are concentrating on the things that matter.

PIMOrganizer Is Free

Evolens has made its PIMOrganizer application free, for a short time anyway. The name is a bit misleading as this is more of a backup and management tool for your PIM, rather than an organiser in itself. Reviews over at XDA-Developers have ranged from the good to the bad, so if you fancy finding out for yourself you can avail yourself of their generousity and download the installer to your Windows Mobile phone directly from here.

I will be installing this to one of my spare devices to see how it runs, but in the meantime let me know how it works for you if you decide to try it.

TAG-Heuer Meridiist Phone... Meh

I'm something of a fan of TAG-Heuer watches, especially the classic re-workings of the Monaco and Carrera lines, but on first viewing of the new phone - the Meridiist - I have to say I'm mightily disappointed. Feature-wise its pretty good, with an MP3 player, an OLED secondary display with a clock display (unsurprisingly) and a claimed 28 day standby. There's also the option of leather, rubber or crocodile for the fabric back cover - to match your watch strap no doubt - and an aluminium manufacturing process of undoubted quality. All in all though its one ugly beast and not tempting at all, especially at its credit crunch busting £2500+ price tag. I suspect the majority of sales will go to people who want to make a wealth statement, rather than those who actually find the thing attractive.

The Bluetooth headset on the other hand is very impressive. Combining with a USB charger/dock it has 4GB of storage which can presumably be accessed over Bluetooth by the phone as well as…

Lies, Damned Lies And Useless Metrics

AdMob, a company that specialises in adverts targeted for the iPhone/Android platforms, has seen a massive rise in iPhone and Android hits to its monitored sites. In other news the Earth travels around the Sun and the Pope is a Catholic. I mean seriously who is giving this stuff any credibility? And why are otherwise sensible websites republishing this guff as news?Perhaps I'll take a survey of activity at a selection of Palm and Windows Mobile websites and publish a metric report that says 'No-one uses their iPhone for web browsing at all' which would be about as valid.

Lets be clear about this, AdMob's survey is invalid for several reasons: conflict of interest, inappropriate survey sample and poor analysis of data. AdMob needs to sell advertising on mobile websites and in iPhone and Android applications, therefore a survey which says anything but iPhone and Android browsing of mobile sites is booming just blows their reason for existence out of the water.

I'd say …

iPhone 3.0 Raises Some Questions Of Apple

There's a lot of good stuff in the newly announced iPhone 3.0 update - although it is fair to say that most of the updates only bring feature parity with pretty much every other phone on the market.

However I am intrigued by some of the changes brought in by the update and what they say about Apple's relationship with its loyal customers.

For example how many iPod Touch and iPhone users have gone out and spent money on a bluetooth stereo module, FM transmitter or car kit which, with the update to A2DP is now redundant?

And whilst I appreciate that copy/paste is difficult to achieve (although everything cleverer than a toaster has had it since the middle ages) I can see no such excuse for delaying MMS messages, SMS forwarding or Satellite navigation.

In effect, iPhone user, Apple has denied you these features, cost you this money on a whim. A powerplay that says you may own your device, but we own you. Only the arrival of stern competition from Palm has forced Apple's hand into…

Windows Live For Mobile Push Email

One interesting part of Microsoft's consumer strategy is the integration of consumer grade push email into Windows Mobile. Yes, you've always been able to do push email it you were in the enterprise environment and your company had a MS Exchange email setup, or you signed up for one of the Exchange push email services on the web, but that was never very consumer friendly or attractive for the less technically minded.

Now users who sign up for the Windows Live service (the service formerly known as Hotmail) get push email into the bargain, without really having to do very much at all. The service also synchronises contacts and will integrate your Live Messenger contacts into your address list - a nice touch which shows Microsoft does 'get' integrated services.

The only missing feature is the synchronisation of the calendar service, which would really seem to be an obvious winner, no-one at Microsoft seems willing to commit to this happening yet... Although common-sense…

Is There A Pretty Smartphone In The House

Shaun over at PDA247 posed a question over aesthetics this morning, wondering if a devices looks affected your buying decision. He also listed his five best and worst looking devices - revealing severe visual problems in the process - lists which both contain phones with front mounted qwerty keyboards.

Now while I think that this particular combination is the most effective compromise for a Smartphone, its also a nightmare for designers as striking a balance between the screen and keyboard, whilst keeping the whole device in proportion is incredibly difficult. As yet I haven't seen a device using this layout that could be described as anything better than unbalanced, whether it be from Nokia, HTC, Palm or RIM.

Of the type the Nokia e71 strikes me as the least flawed in design, shame then that it runs Symbian S60, an operating system I've never really been taken with.

But then aesthetic considerations are definitely not at the top of my list when buying a new device.

No Spotify For Windows Mobile

Subscription free music service Spotify has done pretty well since throwing its doors open to all UK users back in February, even a security scare hasn't been enough to slow its growth.

Now Spotify is looking to bring its service to mobile phones as well, if adverts for programmers on Symbian, iPhone and Android are any indication.

Of course that excludes one of the major mobile platforms. Which seems strange, given the number of devices Microsoft's licensees are selling and have sold in the past. I guess Windows Mobile users will have to hope that the reason there's no Windows Mobile programmer on the Spotify job advert is that the similarities between development on the desktop and mobile platforms mean that development of the Windows Mobile version is well advanced...

WM6.5 Gets Proper MIX09 Intro - New Start Menu Sucks

Microsoft's Loke Uei Tan presented an extensive overview of Windows Mobile 6.5 to devs and Web-heads at MIX09 and whilst it was good to see that Microsoft have been making some effort to listen to its customers, there's really some concern that 6.5 will really amount to nothing more than a skin job on 6.1, missing out on an opportunity to move Windows Mobile's feature set further ahead of the competition.

Some of the UI changes do seem to rather pander to the current 'touch is god' movement - a complete reversal of the previous movement to make everything work as well however the user decides to interact with the device.
The revised Start Menu is also an area of some concern. Some people hate the existing Start Menu, but as a tool for switching between active tasks it remains an unsurpassed solution. The current Start Menu allows pinning of seven applications (plus the Today link) to the menu, as well as displaying the five most recently opened applications not alrea…

Google Releases So-so YouTube Application

Google has brought S60 and Windows Mobile up to speed with an official YouTube application, released into the wild today. The Windows Mobile app is far from the first YouTube viewer for Windows Mobile users, who have been able to make a pretty good fist of viewing the flash-delivered content almost since day one. Of the existing methods of viewing YouTube (TCPMP, YouTube Player and WVD in the main) the official app acts most like YouTube Player, as it does the searching and viewing within the application itself.

I tried the two head to head on a couple of videos and its clear that Google have some work to do - the official apps is noticeable more jerky and suffers from lipsync issues which don't affect YouTube Player on the same videos.
Still its nice to see Google putting some application-love Microsoft's way - added to Google Maps and Google Search App, YouTube makes up a hefty arsenal of Google products on its rivals turf. And there's no question that Google have done a b…

Something Wrong Here, Surely

T3's hot 100 has a heavy phone presence - especially in the top ten where there is a preponderance of smartphones. A WebOS based Palm, a Nokia running Symbian and a Windows Mobile powered Toshiba... but no iPhone.

Now whatever your feeling on the iPhone its ridiculous to suggest that it is anything other than the hottest gadget around. 13.7 million of them were sold last year, more than most other platforms, never mind individual phones.

And to have two devices which next to no-one has handled never mind reviewed in anger in the top ten in its place is completely pointless, calling the validity of the whole list into question.

Palm Pre v iPhone 3.0 Feature Comparison

Here's an interesting comparison of what was announced in iPhone 3.0 and how it compares to features previously announced by Palm for the Pre and WebOS. I think Palm's announcement of the Pre has given Apple a richly deserved kick up the backside and they've implemented many of the features that should have been in the OS from day one. Add this to the current brand image, rich application mix and Apple's strong media handling abilities and you have to wonder how the Pre will fare?

Of course in absolute terms of what the iPhone can do out of the box there are some notable features absent - video recording anyone? And Apple's dismissal of background applications seems a poor reflection on how they tested the feature rather than an inherent problem with the feature - Windows Mobile phones are able to handle background processes for things like Skype, IM and Scrobbling and still manage to get better or equal performance out of similarly sized batteries.

What is missing f…

Pocket Informant Arrives In The App Store

So far my look at how well the iPhone's user interface and PIM applications compare to Windows Mobile haven't been entirely successful for Apple's technology superstar.

Things may be about to change though with the arrival of Pocket Informant in the App Store. A well regarded Windows Mobile application Pocket Informant could make a significant contribution to the iPhone's appeal for people who need more than the basic iPhone PIM functionality.

Coupled with the changes announced for the introduction of iPhone 3.0 its been a good 24 hours for iPhone fans pointing to the continued success of the platform, in the short-term at least.

You Don't Have To Have A Sense Of Humour...

...but it certainly helps! This is by far the funniest reaction I've seen to iPhone OS 3.0...

Apple iPhone 3.0 Leaps Ahead, Competition Completely Outflanked

The iPhone's a pretty feature-rich platform, with class-leading web, music and email applications. But in other areas its been seriously lacking, lacking basic features like copy/paste, background/push, MMS and more advanced features like real navigation, bluetooth stereo, peer to peer connectivity, proper search and homescreens.

Not any more.

Today's unveiling of OS 3.0 brings all these features and many more; and its available for iPhone owners in June, for free! iPod Touch owners will also get the upgrade however they will be required to pay the usual minimal fee for the privilege.

I'm not sure what impact that will have on Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and Google, but as far as Palm are concerned I'm fairly sure that Ed Colligan and Roger McNamee spent a large part of today's webcast soiling themselves as feature after feature rolled out.

And that's before the third generation iPhone arrives...

Usability Testing - Part 2. Contacts

Carrying on with my look at how the iPhone's interface compares with Windows Mobile's much derided UI, I'm going to take a look at how Contact handling works with both interfaces and also how that interacts with calling and texting, probably the most important part of a smartphone's duties. Again I'll start each comparison from the default home screen, using vanilla OS installs and measure the amount of interaction required to complete specific tasks. With each task I've looked for the most efficient way of completing it for each OS.

First test: Create a contact.
iPhone: Tap the Contacts icon, tap the plus sign and tap in the name box to enter information, once complete tap Save and move to the next field.
WM: Tap the Contacts softkey, tap the New softkey and enter contact information.
Result: Whilst the process of getting to the new contact form is similar, the iPhone requires each field to be saved before the next can be accessed meaning that to enter a full cont…

iPhone 3.0 To Support Copy/Paste, Feature Match Pre

Kevin Rose of Digg fame has a pretty good record as far as iPhone predictions go, so when he tells us what is going to appear in iPhone OS 3.0 its worth paying some attention. At SxSW's Digg forum Kevin predicted the arrival of copy/paste and also suggested that when 3.0 hits the iPhone will feature-match the Palm Pre.

Which is either a wild shot in the dark or very, very bad news for Palm...

Another Microsoft Ad...

This ones a couple of years old, but its still pretty cool, especially musically...

So Microsoft can do the advertising thing, in a different way to Apple... we just don't seem to get the good ones over here. 'I'm a PC' is okay, but not really good enough...

Apple Aiming For Sony's Evil Crown

Have you been as impressed with Apple's steady stream of anti-DRM comment, aimed in the main at the music industry in a bid to make music play freely anywhere? I've lauded both Steve Jobs and Apple in these pages for its crusade. So you can imagine my disgust to find that Apple itself implements DRM in more ways than you could imagine and in each case it seeks to do this to stifle competition and drive prices up.

According to the EFF the list of products where Apple have implemented DRM include:

> Apple uses DRM to lock iPhones to AT&T and Apple's iTunes App Store;
> Apple uses DRM to prevent recent iPods from syncing with software other than iTunes (Apple claims it violates the DMCA to reverse engineer the hashing mechanism);
> Apple claims that it uses DRM to prevent OS X from loading on generic Intel machines;
> Apple's new Macbooks feature DRM-laden video ports that only output certain content to "approved" displays;.
> Apple requires iPod…

Why Does O2 Want The Pre?

If reports are to be believed (and as they originate in the Spanish press I'm not 100% convinced) Telefonica have secured the Palm Pre for its UK, Spanish and Latin American subsidiaries O2 and Movistar.

O2 UK already has an exclusive on the iPhone, as well as having a pretty comprehensive XDA range of Windows Mobile devices. So why go out on a limb for the Pre - especially if they are expecting a new iPhone this summer?

I can see two possible reasons: firstly having seen the Pre in detail they are convinced that its going to derail the iPhone gravy train and affect subscriber churn, or secondly the new iPhone is so average they need to find another horse to back in the battle for consumer contracts this summer.

Now, all we need is a release date so we can start preparing...

Usability Testing - Part 1. Calendar

How good is the user interface on the iPhone, does it really make a step forward over Windows Mobile? I'm beginning to wonder, so to try and answer that question I'm going to take a scientific view on this and do some side by side testing.

For the puposes of this phase of testing I'm using vanilla WM6 .1 and iPhone frmware 2.2.1. I'll also start each test from the default home screen. I'll also use what I believe to be the most efficient way of completing the task on each device. For each test I'll assume the default view is 'Day' unless otherwise specified. This is configurable in WM, but the iPhone reverts to the last view used.

First test: Create a Calendar appointment.
iPhone: Tap the Calendar icon, tap the plus sign and the tap a field to start entering details.
WM: Tap the calendar plugin, start entering details. On devices with no hardware keyboard there's an extra step to open the input panel. (Default view day or week)
Result: The iPhone requ…

Scrobbling On-the-go With Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player has long been considered one of the weakest parts of the Windows Mobile feature set, possibly because Microsoft has traditionally seen the platform as an enterprise solution. This is now changing and I think that possibly, with WM6.1, the ugly duckling may have transformed - if not into a swan, then at least into something that you'd be happy to serve roasted to your guests.

On the face of it little has changed, not a bad thing as WMP was always a good looking solution, although not on the same scale as the iPod app on the iPhone. The mechanics of the player seem to work much better though - syncing with the desktop player finally seems to work reliably and album art, playcounts and playlists all transfer as expected. The only remaining anomaly - that the shuffle and repeat options don't work properly also seem to have gone away.

On this basis, can WMP serve as your only MP3 player, rendering that iPod, or add-on software redundant? I think it can - as long…

An Advert For Windows Mobile... Finally

Microsoft has finally realised that it needs to tell people outside of a business environment about what can be done with a Windows Mobile Phone so, for the first time that I'm aware of, its created an advert for the platform.

Where this will play is uncertain and I doubt we'll see it in the UK, but at least its a sign that Microsoft are serious about the mobile market and intend to compete against Nokia, Apple, RIM and Palm.

Is The iPhone The Best iPod?

One of the things that intrigues me about the iPhone's demographic is the massive proliferation of iPod owners. Excepting myself, every single person I know who has an iPhone was an iPod owner already - most on their second or third, one who has at least four (which starts to sound like an unhealthy fetish, frankly).

Is the success of the iPhone more about it being the ultimate iteration of the iPod line than necessarily about it being the best smartphone? Its clear that media handling is one of the iPhone's real strengths which, along with web browsing, make it such a covetable device.

The other statistic worth mentioning is the behaviour of previous smart phone owners when confronted with an iPhone. Everybody I know who previously owned a smartphone either found the iPhone too limited and never bought in to the phenomena, or has reverted back to another smart phone for some, or all of their smartphone needs.

I'd like to see how all the success of the iPhone has affected i…

Remind You Of Anyone?

Once again Scott Adams shows his astonishing understanding of human nature.

Has anyone else noticed that the smaller a piece of technology is, the bigger the emotional attachment?

Smartphone > Laptop > Desktop!

Google v PRS, What's Going On Here?

Its not often you get three sides to a story in one day, but that's what happened yesterday in the battle between Google and the PRS around the streaming of music videos on the Youtube service.

Google was first out of the blocks with the news that UK users would no longer have access to music video on its premium streaming service after the artist's body, the PRS, asked for a disproportionate increase in royalties for the use of content.

The PRS countered by saying that as far as it was concerned the two parties were still in negotiations and it was baffled by Google's unilateral action.

Finally, Billy Bragg, writing in The Guardian explained the formation of a new group to negotiate musician's rights to be fronted by himself and members of Blur.

There's a real sense of traffic accident about this one. No one disputes the artist's rights to get paid for their work and most would agree that they get as badly screwed over by the Music Industry as the customer. Wh…

Why Palm Had To Disown McNamee Comments

Elevation holds a 39% share in Palm, the company is about to issue a new block of shares and Roger McNamee, Palm director and Elevation founder does an interview that makes some very forthright statements and bold predictions about a product which hasn't even been held by anyone outside the company and is still in development. That just about sums up what happened in McNamee's interview with Bloomberg.

Unfortunately there are rather strict rules about what a company can and can't do and say about the future - for good reason, to protect investors. If any of those predictions were to prove false Palm/Elevation/McNamee could have found themselves in a whole heap of trouble. Especially it it could be shown that money had been made as a result.

The end result is that Palm had to release a statement to the SEC reversing all the comments made in the interview. Although if the Pre flops I'm not sure that it will protect McNamee from any civil or criminal charges laid at his d…

Microsoft Targets Significant Windows Mobile Growth

Last year Microsoft managed to post some impressive growth in Windows Mobile sales. Despite the launch of the second gen iPhone, Google's Android and Nokia's first touchscreen phones, year on year growth was almost 65% - 18 Million from the previous 11 million.

This year promises to be equally competitive, with the new Palm Pre and an expected on-rush of new Android based handsets, but this doesn't seem to be phasing Microsoft, who let slip a projection for this year in an interview with the Times. That number is 22 million, representing growth of nearly 25% against last year's figure. That's an ambitious target even if the smartphone market is expected to be somewhat immune to the current recession.

It will be interesting to take a look at that prediction sometime closer to Christmas and see just how well Microsoft know their playing field.

What If Microsoft's App Store Is Just A Web Page?

A number of sites are aghast at the discovery of a Microsoft website which appears to act as a placeholder for the forthcoming Windows Mobile app store.

What exactly do these people think the iPhone's app store is behind the glitzy front end? Or do they really think Apple has loaded the whole app store onto each iPhone in some secret cache area?

Get real people. All app stores are ultimately just front ends to a web based store of installation files. For Microsoft's large number of existing users it makes lots of sense to provide access to the new store via a web link so they aren't excluded from Microsoft's new income generator. And it also means that Microsoft can sell developers an app store with 50 million potential customers.

All the fancy application and service updates can be managed in any number of on or off device ways whether the store is web based or not.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: Its not rocket science.

NetFront 3.5 Looking Pretty Slick

One of the problems of dumping the iPhone is Mobile Safari. Or rather the lack of it. Whatever else you feel about the iPhone you have to agree that it has changed the face of mobile browsing forever. Safari is far and away the best solution for mobile browsing available today.

Which is something of a problem if you have just switched to Windows Mobile. In order to address this shortcoming I've been looking at all the replacement browsers available for Windows Mobile, more details in a future post. However I just had to post on the most recent release of Access's NetFront 3.5 Concept Edition. This is one of the slickest, best looking and most capable pieces of software I've ever seen - never mind for an early pre-beta release.

If you have a Windows Mobile device and want to reverse the browser envy you probably suffer when meeting iPhone users this is a must have on your phone.

And if the rest of Access's ALP OS is this good then I can't wait to see it running on a…

Twitter Hype Getting Ridiculous; iPhone Saves Lost Skier

The Twitter service is either the coolest thing since computers were invented or a banal, pointless service for people who like the sound of their own voices and don't get enough self-gratification on Facebook. What it most definitely isn't is any form of travellers rescue service, despite what this article in The Guardian would have you believe. http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2009/mar/04/twitter-travelling-solo-emergency-safety

Dealing with just the facts, two British skiers became seperated from their tech-savvy skiing goup on a run in Verbiers. One of the group put a tweet out asking if anyone knew the mobile phone number of one of the missing skiers and then twittered updates of the rescue services location attempts. So what the headline should be is 'Twitter used as slow, expensive telephone directory and remote rubber-necking service'. Its use in the rescue attempt is peripheral, if at all valid and the headline is wilfully inaccurate. Sadly the missing skier co…

Palm Looks To Raise More Cash

PDA-247 has the lowdown on a worrying press release for Palm fans which may have greater implications than would first appear.

After the last set of financial guidance issued by Palm I surmised that even with the reduced revenue that its current range is bringing in the company should survive to launch the Pre and also keep going through the initial sales period that seperates the costs of manufacturing the thing from the arrival of customer's cash from selling it.

Palm is looking to grab an extra $49 million with an issue of common stock, whilst investors Elevation will be looking to cash in some of its options to ease the position that it has in Palm.

Why would Palm feel the need to do this? The only reason I can see is if the Pre isn't getting to market quite as soon as Palm and Sprint have projected. Plus of course there's the whole saga of the GSM handset that the rest of the world is waiting for.

Why would Elevation be cashing in shares now? After all a successful la…

O2 Germany Get TG01

Perhaps because they have neither iPhone nor Android phones to offer in Germany, O2 will be releasing the new Toshiba TG01 Windows Mobile there.

Lucky them!

Toshiba have done a spectacular job with the TG01 - the combination of huge high-resolution screen and super thin chassis looks a real winner. Toshiba's Stripes home screen treatment looks the business too. And of course it will be the first phone based on the new 1GHz Snapdragon processor, which should make it absolutely fly!

If Toshiba can deliver on the promise of the TG01, then not getting the iPhone deal could be the best thing to happen to O2 Germany. Lets hope that O2 UK don't pass up on the new Toshiba because they already have the iPhone. Its definitely a candidate for my next phone when contract renewal comes aound...

Where are the SFO When You Need Them?

Britain has now spent a fifth of its GDP propping up and bailing out the disaster that is the banking system. The figures, released by the IMF, indicate that we're in a worse position than any other country in the world. Which doesn't bode well for a country entering recession, with manufacturing and retail sectors in freefall. Your children's children will be paying this debt off all of their working lives at some cost to their standard of living.

Yet just 12 months ago the banks were in the process of multibillion pound rights issues, selling shares to investors on the grounds that they had sound business models and a solid financial footing. We now know that such a notion was ridiculous and the people at the top of the banks were well aware of that fact.

Which amounts to fraud on a massive scale. So why aren't the Serious Fraud Office investigating the perpetrators and preparing criminal charges against them? By their actions, inactions and incompetence they have da…

eBook Thoughts

To look at much of the press you'd think that Amazon had invented the concept of eBooks and that no-one ever attempted such a thing as to read a book on anything but paper until the Kindle came along.

Of course that's far from true, I've been doing it since the early Newton days - probably close to a decade and a half and I'm sure Palm Pilot and Psion 3 users will remember doing the same themselves. Palm (purchasing Peanut Press) and Microsoft (with its mobile version of Microsoft Reader) helped make eBook reading a popular pastime for many PDA owners. Now the iPhone is in on the act can we expect a MP3-style boon in eBook popularity? Probably.

How is Windows Mobile equipped to face this brave new world? Having just jumped ship its a pertinent question for me to address.

The good news is that there is an almost unending choice of software, free and paid, to suit almost every reader's needs. The classic eReader (descendent of Palm's Peanut software), Microsoft Re…

App Store? Got One Of Those, Thanks

Windows Mobile users who are tired of hearing iPhone owners glorify the iTunes App Store should suffer no more. Just pull up the rather excellent PocketPCFreeware mobile website in your browser and show them how one-click installs from the web were on Windows Mobile first, are all free and best of all aren't loaded with applications aimed at seven year olds. (Try to disguise the number of UI fixes though, if you want to win the argument).

http://www.pocketpcfreeware.mobi/index.php

Sudoku Grab - What An iPhone Application Should Be

Or as Jason Langridge puts it - Wow! Here's an iPhone application that grabs Sudoku games from your newspaper using only the iPhone camera. That is very impressive indeed and makes up for at least some of the sad fart applications currently appearing in the App Store.

Details and images are at Jason's website (http://www.mrmobileblog.com/2009/02/27/sudoku-grab-wow/)

Application itself available now from your favourite app store (that'd be the iTunes one then).

Internet Explorer 6 Mobile Available More Widely Than Thought

A few sites have picked up on information from Microsoft, as well as first reviews of the Treo Pro, which reveal that IE 6 Mobile will be available for WM 6.1 devices and not just WM 6.5 as previously thought. This is important because this new version has some new features which, if not necessarily ground-breaking, may save some OEMs the cost of a secondary browser like Opera Mobile.

Key features of the new version include whole page viewing and fast zooming as well as in page Flash support. Its appearance in the Treo Pro proves to be something of a surprise after Microsoft last week suggested that it was a complex install and would therefore be restricted to WM 6.5 devices. On closer inspection the treo Po appeared to be running AKU 1.4 and Microsoft later confirmed that this would be available to OEMs to develop updates for existing devices, if they chose.

Putting aside the low likelihood of such a thing happening, I wonder if what we're seeing is a storm in a teacup and would …

Elevation Founder Overplays Palm Pre, Promises To Bury iPhone

Chief investor in Palm, Elevation Partners, have got an awful lot riding on the successful launch of the Pre, sometime in the next three months. So its unsurprising that co-founder Roger McNamee look the option to add some hype to the forthcoming launch by being interviewed on TV in the US yesterday.

His claim that every iPhone user will be a Pre user one month after their contract ends can be dismissed as hyperbole. What is worrying is how this links with other claims about the Pre (What's the market? We don't know, You don't know?!? Ed Colligan's dismissal of undercutting the iPhone 3G's price). It really does suggest that they are after renewing iPhone users.

If that's the market they are after they are in for a world of pain.

Firstly iPhone 3G users are tied in to 24 (US) or 18 (UK) month contracts, which means most of these aren't going to be upgrading until 2010. The original iPhone wasn't a big success, especially when measured against the 3G. So…

Bank of England Goes Nuclear - Head for the Shelters

Mervyn King's latest response to the banking crisis - another cut in interest rates and a 'Zimbabwean' creation of £75 billion of new money shows just how badly the Government, The Bank and the banking sector have managed the crisis since the run on Northern Rock deposits that woke the population to the Credit Crunch as a global problem, rather than an all-American cock-up.

We have now reached the point where it would have been cheaper to allow our ill-managed banking sector to collapse and re-pay all debtors through the protection scheme than to follow the bail-out path which has thus far proved completely ineffective.

The nationalization of the banks that would have allowed could then have allowed the government to control the supply of money and credit, allowing us to manage our way out of this financial dead end. Instead we are heading for a period of deflation which will harm savers, investors and manufacturing.

Nice one Mervyn, another banker proven well-worth his hi…

Celio Redfly To Support Blackberry

I've never really seen the point of the Celio Redfly. This machine consists of a small screen and keyboard which attaches to your Windows Mobile device via Bluetooth or USB and via the magic of an installed driver converts your small screen phone into a larger screen Windows Mobile laptop. Well, as long as yours is a supported device anyway.

Which would make some sense it this were a sub £100 device, but actually its closer to a £200 device. Which is right in mini-laptop territory.

So, a full OS laptop with loads of functionality and pretty good connectivity options, or dumb screen and keyboard for your phone? I might be missing something here, but as far as I can see there are no common sense reasons for choosing the Redfly.

How it can have been successful enough for Celio to be preparing the launch of a Blackberry version is completely beyond me.

Oops Spotify

The Guardian is reporting on a security breach at music service Spotify. The loss includes user credentials, address and contact details but not credit card information. User passwords are encrypted, but at risk of a brute force attack.

The security risk was identified and fixed before Christmas, so only accounts registered before 19th December are at risk. As the service was in private beta at this time there should only be a limited number of accounts affected.

Its not great publicity for Spotify, who recently opened the service to all UK users and its a warning to anybody signing up with a new start-up, yet at the same time its also why these sorts of services have beta periods. Its worth remembering that beta testing, whether for software or a service, comes with its own risks which should be weighed carefully before signing up.

U2- Going Cheap

Whether its because I've become jaded with the music industry or just fed up with the constant babble that comes out of Bono's mouth I'm not sure, but the release of a new U2 album is not something that really registers anymore. I wonder if I'm not the only one, because the release of the latest disc has seen the band involved in ever more desperate attempts to generate publicity and hype.

Whether its because that campaign hasn't been entirely successful, or because Tesco are looking to generate some publicity for their music download service I'm not sure, either way until the end of this week the album will be available as a download from Tesco for the bargain price of £3.97.

Even at that 'great' price I think I can safely say I won't be indulging.

Cash Strapped Palm Needs Pre Very Soon

As predicted Palm's Q3 figures were even worse than Q2 and way down on what Wall Street had been predicting. Palm are suggesting that gross sales will be in the $85-90 million, significantly less than the company burns through in a quarter. The full figures will be announced later this week in Palm's financial statement which should give a better idea of how things stand.

Its pretty clear that Palm's once mighty cash reserves are all but depleted and if they don't start making money out of the Pre soon they'll be forced to go cap in hand to investors for more cash to tide them over. Given the fantastic coverage that the Pre has garnered thus far that shouldn't be a problem. But Palm needs to get the Pre right first time, because they may not get a second chance.

You Did What...?

That's the reaction I'm expecting from friends and colleagues who have almost universally switched to the iPhone.

Reaction to what? Well the news that I am going to be sidelining my iPhone and switching to Windows Mobile as my everyday device. If you've read my review of the XDA Zest you will know that I was very impressed with everything about it, so when the time came to return it I decided that I couldn't and one exchange of filthy lucre later, I'm back in the Windows Mobile camp.

Whilst there is plenty to like about the iPhone, after six months of use I think that the iPhone's aims are too narrow to really qualify as a smartphone. It is instead a merging of internet tablet and media player which makes perfect sense if you've previously owned an iPod and a feature phone. And, unsurprisingly, every single iPhone owner I know had this combination prior to buying the iPhone. No wonder that the app store is overwhelmingly populated by consumer type applicati…

Lobster Tunes Windows Mobile Review

Having already looked at one alternative music player for Windows Mobile, the rather impressive Pocket Tunes 5, I now have a much shorter review on the much less impressive Lobster Tunes, published by Electric Pocket.

In terms of features Lobster Tunes looks pretty promising, it supports uPNP which allows you to stream music from compatible host applications (Windows Media Player being one), as well as internet radio and local content. Additionally Lobster Tunes can connect to the internet and retrieve album art for songs that are missing the crucial pictures which can make music listening a pleasant visual experience too. Lobster Tunes will also scrobble your music to Last.fm if, like me, you are a user of this service.

Now let me say up front that I tried Lobster Tunes on a VGA screened device, which may be why there were problems, but frankly VGA has been around long enough and is popular enough that I wouldn't expect that to be an issue.

On opening Lobster Tunes you are presented…

Could You Restore Your Smartphone On The Road?

Here's an interesting scenario which raises its head as a result of a conversation with a friend, recently returned from a round the world trip. Just how easily could you restore your smartphone in an emergency?

Imagine the situation, you're out and about, possibly away from home when a power spike, bad piece of software, or a similar issue causes your smartphone to hard reset. You've been relying on your device, so you've now got no other access to your contacts, calendar or email. You don't know where you're supposed to be and you have no way of getting in touch with anybody to find out.

If you have an iPhone I'm afraid its probably game over right now. You can't re-activate your phone unless you have access to an internet connected machine which can sync to iTunes. You can't even call anybody to explain your predicament.

Most devices would leave you with the bare minimum - a working phone and the ability to call anybody whose phone number you can …